Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], January 20 (ANI): Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday alleged that customs officials tried to intimidate and threaten government officials when they appeared before the agency in connection with the gold smuggling case.
"Harikrishnan was summoned by the Customs Department under Section 108 of the Customs Act and appeared before the Customs Preventive Office, Ernakulam on January 5, 2021. On his return, on January 7, State Assistant Protocol Officer Harikrishnan reported to the Chief Secretary about his experiences. They had treated Harikrishna in a very disrespectful manner," said Vijayan while responding to a submission by V Joy MLA in the state assembly.
He further alleged that the customs officers intimidated Harikrishnan to give statements in a certain manner.
"A letter has been sent to the Union Finance Secretary by Chief Secretary of the State on January 11, 2021, describing the misfortunes of Harikrishnan," he added.
The letter also mentioned the name of the customs officer who had treated Harikrishnan rudely and threatened him, he said.
The chief secretary called for an impartial and timely investigation into the incident and for steps to be taken to prevent further misconduct by customs officials, it said.
The Kerala gold smuggling case pertains to the smuggling of gold in the state through diplomatic channels. It had come to light after 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crores smuggled in a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage was busted by the Customs in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5, 2020.
It is being probed by Enforcement Directorate (ED), National Investigative Agency (NIA), and Customs department. (ANI)